•They feared they could not control Ige
•What prevented Osinbajo from being Buhari’s VP in 2011
By Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor
MY Participations, the autobiography of former Governor of Osun State, and Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Bisi Akande, is fast panning out as a controversial book that is stirring the hornets’ nest in many fronts.
For instance, Akande claimed that for the gang-up of some Afenifere leaders, the late Second Republic Governor of old Oyo State, Chief Bola Ige, would have been the presidential candidate of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, in 1999 instead of Chief Olu Falae.
He also said that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would have been the running mate of General Muhammadu Buhari in 2011 but for Buhari’s initial reluctance, the insistence of Congress for Progressive Change, CPC leaders to produce president and vice president in the ACN/CPC coalition, and the refusal of Pastor Tunde Bakare, who was the vice presidential candidate, to resign.
Akande, who was deputy governor to Ige, disclosed that after his ordeals in the hands of the military regime following the 1983 coup, one of his reasons for remaining in politics and serving as Afenifere and AD leader was to offer necessary support to Chief Ige to realise his presidential ambition.
However, he said some Afenifere leaders namely Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Olanihun Ajayi and Alhaji Ganiyu Daudu, moved against Ige because they felt they could not control him as president of Nigeria.
‘’Though I continued to participate in politics during the military era, I kept strictly to the agreement I reached with my children and my wife in the presence of my younger brother not to seek appointive or elective political offices. I was not interested in running for any office including the governorship of Osun State. I was content to remain as the chairman of Afenifere and our new party, the AD. I also believed that from that position, I could offer all necessary support for our leader, Chief Ige, who wanted to run for the presidency,’’ he said.
Recalling how the AD was formed and the roles Ige played in the various meetings and consultations that led to the formation of the party, Akande wrote on page 232: “The Alliance for Democracy (AD) was suddenly formed as a political association on Saturday September 8, 1998.
“UDP being a southern forum needed a northern ally. Chief Ayo Opadokun quickly liaised with a northern political association under the leadership of Ambassador Tanko Yusuf. At an all-night meeting, while his group merged with AD, Ambassador Tanko Yusuf accepted to become the National Chairman of AD. It is pertinent to recall, at this stage, that Chief Ayo Adebanjo was the Deputy National Chairman of AD as a political organisation at its formation in September 1999, while Ambassador Tanko Yusuf was the national chairman. Chief Ayo Fasanmi was the AD National Vice-Chairman for South-West. I was the Osun state chairman of Afenifere since 1995 and the Osun State founding chairman of AD, and a member of the National Executive Committee of both organizations.
“After the 1999 local government elections, the results of which were a prelude to and conditional for the registration of party organisations including AD as political parties, a meeting of the AD leadership was summoned to the chairman’s home in Kaduna to discuss funding and the way forward. At the meeting were Afenifere leaders from the South West too. Among them were Senator Abraham Adesanya, Chief Bola Ige, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Senator Ayo Fasanmi, Chief Olu Falae, Chief Segun Osoba, Alhaji Ganiyu Dawodu, Senator Femi Okunronmu, Dr Wahaab Dosumu and Senator Bola Tinubu. With me from Osun State was Sola Akinwumi. The summary of the decision at that meeting was that the South-West should urgently produce a candidate for the Presidency around whom the search for funds could be coordinated.
READ ALSO: Bola Ige, not Awolowo founded Afenifere — Akande
“After the meeting that night, we (Olaniwun Ajayi, Ayo Adebanjo, Ayo Fasanmi, Ganiyu Daudu, Femi Okunronmu, Sola Akinwunmi, and myself) followed Bola Ige to his wife, Justice Atinuke Ige’s official residence. She was then a Justice of the Appeal Court in Kaduna. There, we were lavishly entertained and we slept to keep the night in different allocated rooms. After dinner, Bola Ige took permission to visit certain people in the city. Sola Akinwumi and I were lodged together in one room. I left a message with Bola Ige’s wife, Justice Atinuke Ige, that Bola Ige should see me on his return from the city no matter how late in the night. On his return, he woke me up. I advised him to seize the opportunity of our being together to mention his ambition for the Presidency to his friends — particularly Olaniwun Ajayi, Ayo Adebanjo and Ganiyu Daudu. While we were at breakfast the following morning, he called his three friends into a lobby as I advised him.
“We thereafter left for Kaduna airport to board Chachangi airline to Lagos. Inside the plane, I saw his three friends talking animatedly with Chief Ayo Fasanmi. As soon as we alighted from the aircraft, Ayo Fasanmi asked me for a ride in my car to Dr Tunji Otegbeye’s house at Ikeja GRA. On our way, he told me that the three friends would not support Bola Ige’s ambition because according to him, Bola Ige would be too tough for them to control as President of Nigeria. That began the surprises at the Ibadan D-Rovan meeting of Afenifere contrived committee where Chief Olu Falae was preferred to Chief Bola Ige as the presidential candidate of AD.”
What stopped Osinbajo from being Buhari’s VP in 2011
Akande also disclosed how the coalition plan of Buhari’s CPC and ACN before the 2011 election was harmed. He recalled that on December 14, 2010 as national chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria, he wrote the national chairman of the CPC that if by December 31, 2010 the ACNN did not hear further from the CPC concerning the collaboration talks ‘’it will be safe for us to conclude that you are no longer interested in pursuing these talks to a logical conclusion.”
Akande continued: “The reaction of CPC to this letter began the failed negotiations between ACN and CPC which attracted further intervention by some national leaders like General Babangida, Atiku Abubakar and others. This eventually crashed at the threshold of the 2011 presidential elections which President Jonathan of the PDP won again. The efforts of the former National Security Adviser – Colonel Sambo Dasuki is worth mentioning in this political bridge building attempt between ACN and CPC. Dasuki was then in support of Buhari becoming the presidential candidate of the alliance. We were willing to have Buhari to be the presidential candidate, but we insisted that ACN had to produce his running mate. We were coming with six governors and CPC had none and yet he wanted to take both the top and the bottom of the ticket. We smelt lack of faith.
“Then, he went ahead to choose Pastor Tunde Bakare, a popular Pentecostal Christian leader in Lagos, as his running mate. We told him Bakare was not known to us in our party. We insisted on taking the running mate. Already, names had been submitted to INEC and we had to think of how to go about it. At that stage, I was no longer interested, but our people were and they believed the situation could still be redeemed. Sambo Dasuki was coming around, begging us to support Buhari’s presidential aspiration. Nuhu Ribadu, whom we had earlier chosen as our presidential candidate in the ACN, said he was ready to step down for Buhari. He said when he accepted to run he did not know that Buhari was also interested in running. He said Buhari was like a father to him and that when he accepted to run for the presidency, he informed Buhari. However, because of the way we nominated him and blocked Bafarawa, we could not just allow him to throw in the towel like that unless Buhari agreed to our condition.
“Buhari finally conceded but said he did not know how to handle the issue of Bakare whom he had already appointed as his vice-presidential candidate and whose name had been submitted to INEC. He was acting from experience. In his first contest, he took Okadigbo and lost. Then, he chose Ume-Ezeoke ang lost again. This time around, he wanted a running mate from Yorubaland and chose a popular pastor, with a radical reputation. We nominated Yenj Osinbajo for him to replace Pastor Bakare on the ticket, Osinbajo, like Bakare, is also a lawyer, a SAN, a professor of Law for that matter, and a Pentecostal pastor too. But Buhari said he had already committed himself to Bakare and did not know how to rescind that agreement.
“The solution, as proposed by General Babangida and some other leaders, was that Bakare should write an undated letter of resignation and after the election, the letter would be given effect. All our people and Atiku attended the meeting with Babangida in Abuja. The day I was to give a press conference about our deal, we were given a time up to 12 noon for us to have Bakare’s letter of resignation. We were waiting for it. By the time we phoned Babangida that we were still waiting for the letter, he said he was on his way to Minna and that he had sent a copy of the letter from Bakare to us. When we saw the letter, it was not what we expected. Bakare stated that it would be fraudulent of him to write a letter of resignation before assuming office. Case closed.’’
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